“Sorrow is knowledge, those that know the most must mourn the deepest, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life.”
     –Lord Byron

This morning’s email brought two requests for assistance from parents who suddenly found themselves needing to bury a child.  I sit here and try to remember a time when I passed such thoughts lightly through my inexperience, thought “that’s awful,” and quickly returned to my day.  The truth is that I cannot find that lighthearted view of the world any more; because no matter how happy I am or how joyfully I greet each day, I carry with me the knowledge born of the sorrow of losing a child.  As impossible as it is for me to find the time before that knowledge entered my world, it is also impossible for my heart to stay inside my chest and not leap out to join the hearts of people who inhabit the space where I once lived.  I no longer live in that space, and for that I am thankful; but each time I hear of another person being called to reside there, I answer the invitation to stop by for a visit.

Each day we are called to gather around the Tree of Life and celebrate the moments that are given to us for living.  Each time we experience some sort of sorrow in our lives, our knowledge grows and affects the way we choose to live.  There are times when I truly wish that I could un-know some of the things that have entered my life.  I wish that I could return to the innocence that told me to trust that all of life was smooth and happy and filled with joy; but such wishes are momentary, and I push them away as soon as they enter my mind.  The truth is that although the Tree of Knowledge may not be the Tree of Life, it is those sorrowful experiences that teach us to revere living and to approach each new day with the sort of reverence and awe that it deserves.

I cannot go back to the time when sorrow had not taught me about this part of living.  I cannot unlearn what it is to mourn.  What I can do, as I pause and wonder why someone else should have to mourn today or suffer today or die today, is to celebrate all the days when sorrow has not been a part of the moments given to me.  I can go and visit sorrow again and still live in joy.  The Tree of Knowledge has fed me with its bitter fruit from time to time, but it only makes the Tree of Life seem sweeter.